Techshot has invented a process for manufacturing large human blood vessels using a patient’s own stem cells. Developed with $1.15 million in funding from two consecutive R&D contracts from the Pentagon’s Defense Health Program, the method produces vessels that are expected to initially benefit soldiers with severe injuries to their extremities. Soon after, they should be available to anyone who, through trauma or disease, needs replacement arteries and/or veins.
Making strong implantable vascular grafts suitable for stitching, and sustaining potentially high arterial blood pressures, begins with a process called electrospinning. An electric field is applied to a thin liquid stream of natural and synthetic polymers, which are similar to materials used for biodegradable sutures. Like a spider spinning a web, the stream instantly solidifies into a very fine filament while being woven around a rotating mandrel, creating a tubular scaffold.
After stem cells collected from the patient’s own fat are printed on the tube, the finished graft is ready to be implanted. Upon complete healing in six to nine months, the polymer tube will have been absorbed by the body, leaving a natural blood vessel.